There are a lot of things that Ocarina of Time did right, and one of those things is the end credits. I feel like it goes rather unappreciated. People rave on and on about this game and look over such a nice touch to finish off this wonderful installment. This is why Nintendo doesn’t do credits like this in other Zelda games anymore! Probably.
Regardless, the ending of Ocarina of Time was fantastic for two reasons: the first being that it actually showed us what went on after Link defeated Ganondorf. It showed us how it affected the lives of Hyrule’s citizens — you know, the people we met, loved, and saved? It wasn’t just a boring scroll of text, it was a continuation. The second, of course, is the musical score.
Ocarina of Time was first released in Japan on November 21, 1998. This month, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most beloved games of all time. Two decades on, Ocarina of Time is still widely regarded as not only the pinnacle of The Legend of Zelda series but as one of the greatest achievements in video game history. Throughout Ocarina Month, we’re going to be looking back on the game that shaped childhoods, defined the action-adventure genre, and introduced a generation to how magical exploring a 3D world could be.
Medli’s Melodies is a series in which we choose our favorite songs from The Legend of Zelda franchise, or highlight a special piece of music from the perpetually creative fan community. Music has always such been such an integral component of Zelda games, and we’re here to celebrate that every week!
After all the battle, drama, tears, and heartbreak, a calming tune soothes your soul as you view the landscape of Hyrule. You revisit the world that you worked so hard to rescue while “Zelda’s Lullaby” serenades you as you rest. I love how the piece starts with a new, original tune before hitting us with a song that we’ve grown attached to throughout the game; and the nostalgia doesn’t stop there.
When “Zelda’s Lullaby” abruptly comes to a halt, fading in from the silence comes “Saria’s Song”, bringing the festivities of the celebrating Hyruleans to life. This was always my favorite part of the credits. Even before I saw the visuals that accompanied this score, I could sense the jubilee that was being held during this portion of the tune. There are new inclusions to this classic such as singing, strings, and even the Goron’s musical cues. All of the characters we know and love are gathered together, celebrating their newfound peace, and there’s no better song that they could be rejoicing to.
The song ends on a more solemn note as we see a dispirited Mido and King Zora. They are clearly missing Saria and Ruto, two of the sages we haven’t seen since Ganon’s Tower. With the sound of harps and the sight of colored shooting stars, they return in a glorious manner. “Zelda’s Lullaby” triumphantly returns as the sages make a final appearance, overlooking the people of Hyrule, knowing that they have completed their journey with much success thanks to a hero in green.
“Zelda’s Lullaby” makes another loop around as Link returns to the past, leaving the Master Sword in its pedestal. Suddenly, Navi flutters up towards the ceiling and leaves without another word. Drums pound, bells ring, and the strings sound out: Your journey is complete. You did it. You saved Hyrule. You are a hero.
With one final reprise of “Zelda’s Lullaby”, Link returns to Zelda, ending the story on a heartwarming note. The song plays nearly identically to when you first met the princess, recreating a precious moment for many gamers. I’ll admit that I may have shed a tear when I first saw this myself.
While many other Zelda titles have an incredible final score, I believe none tell a story with its music better than Ocarina of Time. As I’ve mentioned, my first encounter with this song was without visuals as I had found the track online. I didn’t need to see any imagery to know that this was a time of joy, triumph, and recollection. The music speaks for itself.
If you have not yet seen the credits, I implore you to try and listen to it first without visuals. Let the music take you on a journey and show you Hyrule after Link has rescued it from Ganondorf’s clutches. If you have already experienced it, cinematics and all, I hope you can appreciate this masterpiece in a new light. I hope and pray that one day Nintendo will create credits like this for a new Zelda game just as they did this one, with a thrilling musical track and stunning visuals to match.